‘A passport to cross the room’: cosmopolitan empathy and transnational engagement in Zadie  Smith’s NW (2012)

Shaw, Kristian (2017) ‘A passport to cross the room’: cosmopolitan empathy and transnational engagement in Zadie  Smith’s NW (2012). C21 Literature: Journal of 21st-century Writings, 5 (1). pp. 1-22. ISSN 2045-5224

Full content URL: http://c21.openlibhums.org/articles/10.16995/c21.1...

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Abstract

This article seeks to demonstrate that Zadie Smith’s fourth novel, NW (2012), deviates away from celebratory multiculturalism in Britain, interrogating the struggle between critical cosmopolitanism and melancholia in a twenty-first century urban environment. It will be argued that Smith’s limited geographical focus (on an area in which she was born and continues to reside) intimates that the social constructs of the family and local community are more conducive to developing cosmopolitan empathy and meaningful relations. Through an analysis of the ethical values of hospitality and openness, it will be suggested that NW reflects a rise in transnational relations and the construction of a cultural model of cosmopolitan communication haunted by national identity and the difficulties of negotiating cultural diversity. The article will then conclude by examining how NW exposes the racial inequalities and socio-economic disparities continuing to reside at the heart of British urban life.

Keywords:cosmopolitanism, Zadie Smith, NW, Transnationalism, Ethics, London, contemporary fiction
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q320 English Literature
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (English)
ID Code:25920
Deposited On:01 Feb 2017 14:48

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